I have been contemplating and concocting this post for a while and not just a few month while but more than a year! I guess I’ve been holding back because I’m afraid of the reactions I would get once the good, bad and ugly about Instagram Giveaways are out in the open. But, I want to stay true to my brand and also be completely open and honest with all of you after sensing much frustration in addition to some backlash from the blogger community as well as brands. I want to write a very informative post on the truth and facts of the many types of giveaways that fill our Instagram feeds. Let me preface this by saying that this post is not a personal attack in any way shape or form on ANYONE but merely stating the facts from past personal experiences after hearing many aggravations and complaints about the “organic growth” on Instagram from fellow bloggers alike. So here goes.
We have all seen it, Giveaways done on Instagram. Whether it is sponsored and partnered with specific brands, with a small and organized group of bloggers, mass international loop giveaways or the new trend “secret giveaways” there are a dime and a dozen happening everyday on Instagram and us bloggers may have participated in one, two or a few of these through out the years in hopes to grow our followings. What happened to growing your following organically and authentically? Do they still exist? I remember the first time I ever tried my first loop giveaway around when I had about 1,300 followers back in 2016 although the loops were much different back then though. Yes, you still had to follow multiple accounts but the prizes were much smaller (Kate Spade bags, Louboutin Heels) and it was normally all fashion or lifestyle bloggers who participated. The so called “Buy In” for these loop giveaways were much cheaper at around $30-$50 per event. We would gain a couple hundred or thousand followers if that and once the giveaway ended, the mass drop-off started.
The audience for these targeted giveaways would be fashion minded women who wants to win a bag, a pair of shoes, maybe an iPad or a Canon to jump start the blogging career. Or in the mommy community, it would be a cool stroller, a designer diaper bag, or perhaps a $1000 Gift Card to some well known retailer such as Nordstrom, Sephora or Target. After doing a handful of these and ended up net around 5k followers I realized the mass drop in followers wasn’t really worth the constant flooding of my feed with bright colorful photos that doesn’t match my own so I stopped doing them. After working extremely hard on my content for a year I finally built up a decent following. Around the end of 2016, loop giveaways started to evolve, no longer the small “buy-in” deals that a handful of bloggers were a part of back in the day. These are full blown “International Giveaways” with insane prizes and an even more INSANE amount of money to join my first “BIG” buy in was around $150 and at the time it was A LOT. The reason it is so expensive to join is because those are usually backed with an International “sponsor” account that had millions of followers and as opposed to the few hundred gains one would expect to gain thousands and even tens of thousands. Sounds amazing right? Wrong.
As soon as the giveaway ends and a winner is announced, the drop off rate is expected to be around 40-50% or even more. For days and days after the giveaway ends I would lose hundreds of followers. But you see, these giveaways are like a drug, you see your followers falling, the panic starts to set in. Will it look bad to brands and sponsors that your follower number is falling? Will they question your instagram authoritative voice on promoting products? There are many accounts set up now for just entering into Giveaways and people don’t engage with them at all and thus leave you with a stagnant and ghost audience, this means they don’t unfollow you, nor are they actively engaging in your content or liking hour lifestyle. you are getting thousands of followers that are interested in winning a prize that they really have just a sliver chance of winning. An even bigger issue is that all of these mass follows and unfollows with inactive accounts are screwing with your demographics.
Your specific Instagram algorithm is going to get so confused as to the sudden spike of 10-15k followers in a days’s span when you normally would gain a few and lose a few daily… Now you are gaining thousands, then losing thousands and then you are stagnant. How do you think that bodes with the algorithm? The algorithm most EVERYONE hates and complains about?? Instagram will most likely flag your account for suspicious activity after they’ve seen numerous photos promoting giveaways and brands that have been following your every move is going to question the unsightly giveaway promotions plastered on your feed. Sometime last year, the Instagram giveaway evolves into yet another creative way to host. Instead of everyone post flamboyant Giveaway photos on their account and risk being flagged by Instagram s suspicious activities or erroneous accounts, the new giveaways are now “Secret” meaning that only the large paid sponsors would post on their account or direct people to one specific “Follow” account and all you need to do is sit back and watch your follower count goes up and up without having to show any hideous photo and prizes on your Instagram.
This post has gotten way longer than I anticipated so I will be splitting this to part 1 and part 2. Please join me on Friday for Part 2 which will discuss in depth of what these Giveaways does to algorithm, demographics and the effect it has on brands potentially wanting to work with you. And what you should do if you have already been caught in this ugly downward spiral of giveaways and how to correct your self and build your account back up.